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Cold Weather Rule in effect until March 31

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Public Service Commission’s Cold Weather Rule is in effect until March 31. The rule is designed to protect customers, under certain conditions, from being disconnected in the winter months when temperatures are expected to fall below 32 degrees. Qualifying customers are placed on more lenient payment terms to help avoid possible disconnection. The Cold Weather Rule has been a part of the Commission’s rules and regulations since 1977.

The rule applies to natural gas and electric utilities under PSC jurisdiction that provide heat-related service. Municipally operated systems, cooperatives, and those that provide propane delivered by truck are not under PSC jurisdiction, thus the rule does not apply to them.

Customers can work out a payment plan with their utilities. The customer must pay at least 50 percent of the actual bill for usage during that billing period, or the level bill amount under his/her Cold Weather Rule Payment plan.

The utility may recover unpaid amounts from those winter months by adjusting the customer’s Cold Weather Rule payment installments after March 31.

If a customer broke a past Cold Weather Rule payment agreement, the customer can be reconnected by paying 80% of the account balance owed, as well as allowing customers to budget your payments over 12 months. Customers may be able to extend payment of pre-existing arrearages beyond 12 months. Reconnection of service for less than the full amount owed is allowed.

Customers who defaulted on a previous Cold Weather Rule payment agreement are required to make an initial payment of 50% of the outstanding balance or $500, whichever is less, with the remaining amount deferred to be paid in a Cold Weather Rule payment agreement plan over 12 months.

Customers must be notified by mail, with one notification attempt in person, before service is shut off.

The rule also requires customers to be notified of possible financial help in paying their bill.

Programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can assist in paying heating bills. For more information, contact the local Community Action Agency.

The rule went into effect on November 1.